What Helps Constipation Fast?

Reviewed on 9/30/2020

What Is Constipation?

Constipation is often easily remedied with diet changes and/or over-the-counter remedies. Constipation as a symptom of a more serious bowel disorder may need the attention of a doctor.
Constipation is often easily remedied with diet changes and/or over-the-counter remedies. Constipation as a symptom of a more serious bowel disorder may need the attention of a doctor.

Constipation is a change in bowel habits and can mean stools may be too hard or too small, difficult to pass, or infrequent (less than three times per week). People with constipation may need to strain to empty their bowels and have a sense the bowels are not empty.

Constipation is a common problem that causes more than 2.5 million Americans to visit their doctors each year.

What Are Symptoms of Constipation?

Symptoms of constipation include bowel movements that are:

  • Too hard
  • Too small
  • Difficult to pass
  • Occurring fewer than 3 times a week

Occasional constipation is normal. See a doctor if you have symptoms of constipation that are:

  • New (a change from the normal pattern)
  • Lasting longer than three weeks
  • Severe
  • Associated with any other concerning features that could signal a more serious problem:
    • Blood in the toilet or on the toilet paper after a bowel movement
    • Fever
    • Weight loss
    • Weakness

What Causes Constipation?

Causes of constipation include:

QUESTION

You are constipated if you don't have a bowel movement every day. See Answer

How Is Constipation Diagnosed?

Constipation is usually diagnosed based upon a patient’s symptoms and a physical examination. A doctor will also want to know about any medications you take regularly because some medications can cause constipation.

Tests used to diagnose the cause of constipation include:

What Is the Treatment for Constipation?

Treatment for constipation can include home remedies such as lifestyle changes, eating foods high in fiber, and using laxatives or enemas if needed.

  • Eat high fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, prune juice, beans, and whole grains, including many breakfast cereals
    • The recommended amount of dietary fiber for adults is 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day
    • If you are not used to consuming fiber, it may cause abdominal bloating and gas
    • Increase fiber intake slowly to minimize this side effect
  • Drink plenty of water and other fluids
  • Drink a beverage with caffeine in the morning 
  • Don’t ignore your body’s signals to have a bowel movement
    • If you feel like you have to go, do so
    • Ignoring signals can cause them to become weaker over time
  • Take laxatives if recommended by a doctor

If you try the above remedies and do not have a bowel movement within a few days, call your doctor. 

Medications used to treat severe constipation include: 

Biofeedback is a behavioral approach that may help with severe chronic constipation in people who involuntarily squeeze (rather than relax) their muscles during a bowel movement.

How Do You Prevent Constipation?

You can reduce your chances of getting constipation by:

  • Consuming adequate amounts of fiber
    • Include plenty of high-fiber foods in your diet, including beans, vegetables, fruits, whole grain cereals, and bran
  • Eating less processed food, meat, and dairy which contain low amounts of fiber
  • Drinking plenty of water 
  • Exercising regularly
  • Going to the bathroom when you feel the urge

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Reviewed on 9/30/2020
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